Tag Archives: religion

Freedom in Islam vs. Liberal Freedom

http://katehon.com/article/freedom-islam-vs-liberal-freedom

The Forest and the ‘Faustian’ Soul

“Deep roots are untouched by frost.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Source:
http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/01/timeless-essays-the-forest-and-the-faustian-soul.html

Against Libertarianism

Libertarian philosophy, which achieved it’s clearest development in the work of Robert Nozick, rests on the state of nature fantasy, conceived of by Rousseau, which conceives of man as a self sufficient automaton who rationally gives up a portion of his independence to benefit from the law and order of a just society. Thus, for liberals of all stripes, but especially libertarians, the relation between man and society is contractual, man serves society only insofar as it is beneficial to his own self interest. The conception of a cause greater than individual self interest is discarded, if not explicitly then implicitly. Libertarians may pay lip service to nationalism, community, religion or other forms of tradition, but this can only be considered lip service – their philosophy relegates these to a place of subservience to the self, and their existence is thus contingent on their being perceived to benefit a collective of this self interest. To make these tings contingent on individual interest is to remove all their significance, and to condemn them to an inevitable downfall among a mass of other superstitions which, in the liberal mindset, were only hindrances on the individuals growth.

Libertarianism differs from other forms of liberalism in that it is completely amoral. Other forms of liberalism leave a place for some kind of universal morality, generally based on universal compassion or the remnants of a Christian morality, libertarianism by contrast sees it’s amoral principles as steadfast due to their objective fairness within the conception of man the libertarian holds. This a priori, objective nature is what draws a lot of young intellectual types to the movement, they, like socialists, want an easy solution, a few basic principles which are applicable to all forms of social organisation, at all times, for all people. Taking these principles as sacrosanct, any societal problems which develop under them are seen as faults of he individual, protecting the objective rightness of the principles involved. But there will be losers under libertarianism, and these losers will be those who cannot make themselves valuable in the open market.

This is another problem of libertarianism, it is almost wholly an economic philosophy. It’s founders and chief propagators, Friedrich Von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard and others, were economists who sought to build a wholly a priori economic science which was not so reliant on the whims of politicians and changing circumstances as Keynesianism was. Keynesianism necessitated politicians deciding when the time was right to stimulate the economy with tax payer money, and when the time was right to restrict growth to prevent eventual downfall. With an understandable and natural distrust for this kind of cynical authority, they sought to take this power over people’s lives out of the politicians hands and into the individuals, through their collective choices to supply and demand the market and thus dictate a fair equilibrium, and also to objective, fair, a priori principles, which could do the job politicians tried to do better than the politicians. Libertarianism is the philosophy of the modern automaton. The wholly individual, self seeking economic unit, the “ego and his own”, free to forge his destiny through the amoral pursuit of his desires.

But man is more than an economic unit. Who has ever seen the Individual that the libertarians speak of? Man is an aspect of, a reflection of, a creation of and an integral part of his community. Man is his family. Man is his religion. Man is his nation. Man is his ethnicity. Man is his people’s history. Man is NOT simply a pleasure seeking animal, man, as Aristotle says, is a social animal. And more importantly, man is a being who thirsts for something greater. In his day to day life, he chases one pleasure after another, life, as Schopenhauer says, swings like a pendulum between pain and ennui. And yet, there is an intuition within us all that there is something greater than the material, that there is a good or goods to be pursued, whose pursuit goes beyond any narrow economic interests, and whose pursuit we feel is the justification for this endless game of survival.

Finally, libertarianism, more than any other credible political philosophy, is anathema to nationalism. For the libertarian, every individual is equal and should be given an equal chance, there is no concern over mass immigration for within libertarianism this is fundamentally fair. Let as many immigrants come as they please, the best will be hired, the worst will not, that is what’s fair. This is also to suppose that outside of the government’s interference we can have a totally color blind world, where individuals escape the shackles of the ignorance of racism and other prejudices. Libertarianism is also steadfastly opposed to all forms of protectionism, and, in it’s usual a priori way sees Free Trade as objectively fair and right, regardless of national interest. What this unabashed free trade would mean is a fully global market and the removal of borders in any meaningful sense.

This is hardly surprising when one looks at the founders of libertarianism. Von Hayek, Friedman, Rothbard, Nozick and Ayn Rand were all racial jews. Kevin MacDonald in his book The Culture of Critique gives two characteristics of Jewish intellectual movements. They are generally internationalist in nature, and propose a world free of nationalism and national interests, and they rest on unproven, often unprovable a priori assumptions. This fits Marxism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, and of course libertarianism. It is easy to see why it has attracted many prominent jews among it’s ranks, for it promises a world free of nations, free of irrationality, free of collective interest in any groups, and favours a society which would inevitably be run by a small economic elite, free from taxation or responsibilities to their host nation. Let no man call himself a libertarian who opposed internationalism, liberalism, atheism, modernism and the materialism and selfishness which accompany it.

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Edmund Burke

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A Dozen Great Books

To celebrate world book day, I have decided to share a few of my favourites in various categories. Feel free to leave me any suggestions as I’m always looking for a good read.

Novels (Classics) -The Brother Karamazov

Dostoyevsky is a genius and deserves mention on any list. All his works have value, but the Brothers Karamazov is his magnum opus. A true masterpiece.

Novels (Modern) -Blood Meridian

 Cormac McCarthy is in my opinion the greatest living author. His understated and minimalist style hides layers of meaning and reading his best work can be an almost spiritual experience. He has written much great work, but none better than the bloody western Blood Meridian. The novel is essentially a gnostic text, and contains far more meaning than it seems at first glance. A book that rewards analysis.

Drama – Macbeth

I don’t need to discuss Shakespeare’s merit, it was simply a case of picking one of his works. Macbeth deeply affected me the first time I read it and nothing has matched it since. It’s quite incredible that one man was able to transmit such genius to paper in one life time.

Science –  Wholeness and the Implicate Order

At times difficult but always rewarding, this is Bohm’s argument for his conceptionof a holographic universe, a theory which attempts to unite discoveries in quantum physics with general relativity.

Philosophy – Parerga and Paralipomena

It was extremely difficult to narrow it down to one book in this category, but no one packs so much wisdom into such a small space as does Schopenhauer. His larger works of metaphysics, the World as Will and Idea is also well worth reading, and the Penguin condensed version of his essays is a good alternative, but his first collection of essays is a fantastic read from the first to last page. You cannot read Schopenhauer without leaving the wiser.

Honourable mentions: Pascal’s Pensees. Whitehead’s Process and Reality. Berdyaev’s The Divine and the Human. Spinoza’s Ethics.

Classics – The Odyssey

I love Homer, and choosing between the Iliad and The Odyssey was extremely difficult, but the latter was a more enjoyable read. The Penguin Classics version of it is a great translation and has become something of a classic itself.

Poetry – The Collected Poems

This one is simple, W.B.Yeats is and will always be my favourite poet, and any collection of his work is worth reading. Honourable mention to T.S. Eliots Four Quartets.

Religion – The Upanishads

I considered the Tao Te Ching, The Bhagavad Ghita and a number of writing’s by mystics, but the essence of all is best contained in these founding texts of Hinduism. I simply could not do the wisdom and beauty contained in the Upanishads justice, so I won’t try.

Economics – Progress and Poverty

Henry George’s argument for a single land value tax is still a convincing work. Rarely is a work of economic’s enjoyable but somehow George pulled it off. It is said Tolstoy spent his final moments preaching the value of Georgism to those present at his death bed, so it’s power to persuade is evident.

Politics – Men Among The Ruins

While Revolt Against the Modern World is considered Julius Evola’s magnum opus, I prefer this work. This is Evola’s meditation on the future of Europe in the wake of the second world war, and it presents a good summation of Evola’s thought.

History – Inside the Third Reich

I’m not sure what made this work so enjoyable, but Speer is always honest and eloquent, no one else paints so vivid a picture of the nature of the Third Reich or of Hitler as a man.

Other – The Perennial Philosophy

I wasn’t sure where to fit this one in but I feel it deserves a mention. Aldous Huxley condenses the essential teachings of the world religions through the medium of the wisdom of their greatest adherents.

Dala Paintings 1780-1870 – Swedish Folk Art

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Ålderstrappan, The Stairway of Age, Winter Carl Hansson, Danielsgården, Bingsjö, 1799

 

The province of Dalarna, meaning the Dales, is held as being the heart of Sweden. Located in the central part of the country, it has been the economic backbone of Sweden, owing much to its copper and coal mining as well as the strong and free-minded people of Dalarna residing there since hedenhös, heathen days.

It was in these lands, primarily in the parishes of Rättvik and Leksand, where a distinct rural art form took root. Stricken by famine plaguing years, coupled with frequent crop failures, the people of Dalarna were forced to turn towards alternative forms of craftsmanship for income and survival. Different schools of techniques sprang forth and some came and went, and many melded together.

It was the decorating of furniture that would grant recognition in times to come. Their skill in decorating coffers and cupboards with myriads of florae and vines became popular. Soon after, they expanded their craft into the realm of tapestry paintings, adorning once again cottages with their peculiar, yet diverse art.

As time passed, this comprised community of itinerant and untrained artists from all walks of life – peasants, soldiers and village school teachers – were taking their art into a new realm. A spiritual realm. There, they infused their everyday struggles with the stories of the Bible. Prophets, Apostles and Kings became Dalkarlar or Dalecarlians, and the lands of the Dalecarlians became the lands of Egypt, Israel and Babylon.

Traveling and selling their work from village to village, it brought in a modest income, but the artists were not only driven by mere need for extra earnings. It is no surprise to find that many of the artists were village school teachers, a group close-knit with priests as educators in the ways of the Christian faith.

Later on, they would collectively become immortalized in the poetic works of fellow Dalecarlian poet Erik Axel Karlfeldt as Dalmålare, Dala painters, and their work would cement into public conscious as Dalmålningar, Dala paintings, a name given by the art enthusiasts and National Romanticists of their days. Another name given posthumously to their craft is Kurbitsmålningar, Kurbits paintings, from the recurring Kurbits motif of florae and vines as mentioned before.

The Kurbits, which derives from the Latin Cucurbita and the German Kürbis designation of gourd, was in the older Swedish translations of the Bible used to refer to ricin bush that God lets grow and shade Jonah from the scorching sun. Jonah 4:6-7. Despite its name, it is an ambiguous term for a fantastical plant.

One of the finest works of the Dala paintings and possibly even all Swedish folk art is Ålderstrappan, the Stairway of Age. No longer treating the Kurbits as a mere background decoration, Winter Carl Hansson goes for a depiction of the Kurbits as interwoven with the lives of the subjects.

It shows a man – later a man and a woman in arms – ascending the staircase of life from the age of 1 to the age of 100; from a rocking baby crib to a deathbed. On the left side, we see the Kurbits blossom and tower over the couple, reaching the skies – the frame of the picture. On the far right, we see a leafless tree tilting over from age and dying roots, just like the couple approaching the age of a 100.

Underneath the staircase, we see a different plane of existence. In the middle, underneath the 50 year old couple, stands a tree surrounded by two plants. In the same plane, on the left, a baby lies on the ground, and the right, Death is in plain sight in his skeleton shape with his scythe.

In contrast to the crudely portrayed and two-dimensional human subjects, the Kurbits stand out with its fine symmetry. One is compelled to think that it was all intentional and not a matter of coincidence on the part of the artists’ lack of higher art training. The fact that the Dala painters saw the Kurbits as symbolizing the transcental, that which does not die, can be summarized in the words of Winter Carl Hansson: “Här finns Både Rosur och Blåmmor Som Wäccsa Både Winter och Såmmar.”

Here are found both roses and flowers that grow both winter and summer.

 

 

A Call To Tradition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of today this blog has been renamed The Traditionalist, and it’s new url is radicaltraditionalism.com. I feel it would be remiss of me to let this opportunity pass without explaining my decision to make it explicitly a space for the promotion of traditionalism.

The story of my journey to an embrace of traditionalism probably may not be captivating, but in many ways it seems to parallel the journey humanity has been on the past few centuries, though the conclusion is far from certain to be the same. What i mean is, I was raised with a romantic and firm belief in a religious mythology, began to embrace it intellectually, then encountered certain heresies against those beliefs and, after a rather poor intellectual examination of those original beliefs dropped them, first in favour of agnosticism or a kind of deism, and then in favour of full fledged materialism and atheism. I then faced the consequences of such a belief and, still desiring something greater than myself to believe in, I turned my passion to radical politics. Having seen the failings in such views, I then again dropped into a kind of nihilism, before embracing a return to traditionalism. Were my story to be akin to that of humanities, it would seem we are at the penultimate stage of development, though I am less than hopeful that is how it will pan out.

Raised a Catholic, I was quite devout as a child and for a time I even wanted to be a priest when I grew older. Around a certain age, say 14, an older family member introduced me to a YouTube documentary which viciously attacked religion and the Catholic Church in particular, and then casually “refuted” Christianity with it’s explanation of how the story of Jesus had been fabricated, taking common aspects from other religious myths such as Horus, Mithra and Krishna to construct a satisfying fairytale to keep stupid poor people under the thumb of the all powerful church. Of course, at the time I neither had the critical faculties nor the knowledge to challenge these shocking claims, and thus left my faith.

Despite losing my faith in any and all religion, I always remained an agnostic rather than an atheist, and still had a certain intuition that bare faced atheism could not be true, but I did not trouble myself with thinking over the matter. is there a God? Who knows? Better not to trouble oneself with such unanswerable questions and get on with life. My first great intellectual interest was politics, and I dived into it with all my heart and soul. The same family member who showed me the falsehood of all religion pointed my intellectual endeavors in the direction of radicalism, expressing his horror at the evils of capitalism and the crimes of the US. Once again, he seemed right minded on this, and I became quite left wing for a time, being convinced that socialism was the answer to the ills of mankind.

it is interesting looking back to see how tied my socialism was to my belief in determinism. Before any foray into philosophy, practically from the moment I dropped religion, I was convinced that free will was an illusion. I did not know such a theory even existed outside my own head, but it seemed clear that humans are impacted by the outside world the same way a stone or a tree is, and our movements are similarly determined. How did this tie into my radicalism? If there were such a lack of free will, the result of anyone’s position in society was there upbringing. The poor were poor because they were born into conditions destined to make them poor. The rich were rich by chance, being born into a wealthy family which had similarly won the lottery ticket of birth and been born into favorable circumstances. Having accepted this as true, what option was there other than to enforce a leveling on society, and ensure that all were given the same opportunity (and outcome). If no one was responsible for their position in life, what else could be fair? Of course, I was not so naive as to embrace a bare faced communism, the ideology which had caused the deaths of tens of millions and failed in practically all of it’s aims. I needed an alternative which was just as radical, but avoided the trappings of “orthodox communism”. Aided by reading a lot of Chomsky, I found this in anarchism, anrcho syndicalism, libertarian socialism or whatever other name is being used for it nowadays.

My faith in this belief system was also motivated by another thinker who I had come to love, Friedrich Nietzsche. As he is with many, Nietzsche was the first philosopher I read seriously,in fact, I did not just read him, i devoured him. Nietzsche opened my eyes to a terrible realisation I had somehow always avoided, unintentionally or not. If there was no God, if God really was dead, then everything was fundamentally meaningless. Concepts such as right or wrong, good or evil, better or worse, were just subjective preferences, statements of belief with no objective validity. This meant my passion for radicalism was basically just a silly little passion of mine. No system of governance was really better than another, because to believe that you had to believe in a right and wrong, and the reality we all faced was that in the end we will all die, all our suffering, all our joy, misery, success or failures will all come out in the wash the same. Infinity +1 is still infinity. However, I still had a strong sense of justice, and so I found a new, more Nietzchean way to justify my radicalism. A form of anarchism, it seemed, could be constructed which did not rely on resentment or the remnants of a Christian morality. Rather, this was a more positive system which sought to maximise the potential of all rather than maintain the narrow aims of ensuring everyone got their share of bread and water.

It would be much more simple to point out some moment where my whole perspective entirely changed, but belief is much more complex than that. Over the next few years I studied economics, politics and especially philosophy intently. I came to disregard Nietzsche and actually think him a quite worthless philosopher. I was drawn to the perennial philosophy. It seemed incredible to me to see the enormous similarity found in the doctrines of Eckhart and other Christian mystics, Lao Tzu, the Buddha, Sufism and the Upanishads. I especially took an interest in Eastern philosophy, and after intense study of it’s teachings saw Vedanta, the philosophical school of Hinduism, as the culmination of all philosophy, and it’s Brahman as being the absolute reality of which all religion attempts to express and celebrate. I also became convinced of the truth of idealism, and came to see materialism as an empty and fundamentally false philosophy, laced in error. During this time I became almost apolitical, I had given up on leftism, gradually feeling disdain for the tactics and arguments leftists used to advance their ideology, which to me seemed to appeal to nothing but man’s desire for comfort, before I had any stronger beliefs this always seemed to be an attitude worthy of disgust. I had hated the conservatives for always seeming to appeal to nothing but their constituents greed and desire to become wealthy, but now I realised those on the left appealed to desires just as base. People voted liberal or conservative, basically, based on which one would be most to their advantage, generally financial.

I came to see the whole of modern politics, and the whole of the modern world, as being built on a lie. The lie was never actually spoken, but it was ever present, underlying all discourse and argument. The lie was the promise of heaven on earth. It was the conviction that materialism was true, that God was dead and that the only real truth was the self. We can not believe anything to be absolutely true, and thus we can not believe that anything could be greater than the self, the medium which relegates these other potential truths to mere relativity. And the unavoidable conclusion of such belief is that the only path left for the human race is to pursue a logical path to both ever increasing personal freedom and manipulation of nature through science with the intent of increasing it’s potential to alleviate our suffering and increase our pleasure. The world is slowly moving from what remains of the Christian slave morality to a new utilitarian approach, which trusts in science and personal preferences to dictate the direction of human progress.

I realised this was the spirit of the age, and I detested every aspect of it. The utopianism, the promise of paradise on earth, that same promise which the communists and the fascists had used to justify their grave crimes against humanity. The positivism and scientism, which assumed science could answer all our questions, and anything that could not be answered in such a way was a not a meaningful question in the first place, thus relegating philosophy and religion without even bothering to debate them in any fair way. The belief that nothing was greater than pleasure. That art, education, literature, poetry, beauty, adventure, discovery, invention, religious experience, all of these only had worth in so far as they were enjoyable to the person experiencing them or benefited the survival and pleasure of the human race as a collective. That morality was non existent, that we could not condemn certain behavior or praise virtuous behavior. I detested these views, and I saw that they were not really separate beliefs at all, but rather branches on the one tree, sprouting from the one, fundamental belief which characterised the age they dominated. The belief was materialism. Liberals and conservatives are left and right on a spectrum which operates entirely in a materialist framework, a framework established during the Enlightenment by figures like Rousseau and Locke. Thus, the only alternative was not another place on that spectrum, another point on the compass, rather, the alternative would be to leave that spectrum entirely. To throw away materialism and modernism having accepted it’s failure, and to return to the kinds of beliefs which birthed Western civilization and all it’s fruits.

The alternative? Well, as the Traditionalist writers often point out, all religions have both an exoteric and an esoteric aspect. The exoteric aspect is that expressed to the masses, it is heaven and hell, God in heaven and people on earth, angels and demons, sins and sainthood. The esoteric aspect is that common to all religion. It is the mystical aspect, the one truth expressed by all great mystics and spiritual teachers, which the exoteric side is a simplified, doctrinal version of. These two options seem to be two alternatives to the modern dichotomy. In other words, one could embrace an exoterism, and thus embrace the absolute truth of one religion and struggle for it’s implementation as an alternative to the very post modern malaise we find ourselves in. The other option is esoterism, which would amount either to a form of paganism or an embrace of unity and detached, compassionate action, which could manifest politically as the promotion of spiritual seeking in all it’s forms. This is rather vague, and there’s a reason for that. The esoteric attitude is fundamentally a detached, apolitical one, which does not concern itself with the trivialities of organising the material world when the more fundamental task of achieving gnosis or enlightenment is ever present, and is something the individual must do alone. As such, embracing this spirit seems to land one in a new age, hoky, ultra liberal embrace of humanity which will struggle with relativity of liberalism, and which also lacks an absolute morality.

Thus, the solution, in my view, is a synthesis. A middle way between the esoteric and exoteric sides of traditionalism. This was the case in many ways while Europe was dominated by Christianity, for Christianity is perhaps the only religion which synthesises estoericism and exotericism It is exoterically esoteric, and it thus achieves the unity of the positive aspects of each. Thus, a Christian renaissance would be ideal for the kind of synthesis I believe is now desirable. Nevertheless, the point remains, that a return to the kind of traditionalism once enjoyed is not possible, as the subconscious prejudices and beliefs which enforced it have been challenged and called into question, and that alone is enough to derail the validity of the system they enforced. And so, my firm conviction is that our future, if we are to have one, rests in a ‘Neo Traditionalism’ which can find the best aspects of Traditionalism and a way to synthesise them with aspects of modern life and development which either will not or should not go away. The search for, promotion, and refinement of this viewpoint will be the purpose of this website.

Frithjof Schuon on Christianity and the Bible

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Taken from The Fullness of God Chapter 9 – Keys to the Bible.

In order to understand the nature of the Bible and its meaning, it is essential to have recourse to the ideas of both symbolism and revelation; without an exact and, in the measure necessary, sufficiently profound understanding of these key ideas, the approach to the Bible remains hazardous and risks engendering grave doctrinal, psychological, and historical errors. Here it is above all the idea of revelation that is indispensable, for the literal meaning of the Bible, particularly in the Psalms and in the words of Jesus, affords sufficient food for piety apart from any question of symbolism; but this nourishment would lose all its vitality and all its liberating power without an adequate idea of revelation or of suprahuman origin.

Other passages, particularly in Genesis, though also in texts such as the Song of Songs, remain an enigma in the absence of traditional commentaries. When approaching Scripture, one should always pay the greatest attention to rabbinical and cabalistic commentaries and—in Christianity—to the patristic and mystical commentaries; then will it be seen how the word-for-word meaning practically never suffices by itself and how apparent naïveties, inconsistencies, and contradictions resolve themselves in a dimension of profundity for which one must possess the key. The literal meaning is frequently a cryptic language that more often veils than reveals and that is only meant to furnish clues to truths of a cosmological, metaphysical, and mystical order; the Oriental traditions are unanimous concerning this complex and multidimensional interpretation of sacred texts. According to Meister Eckhart, the Holy Spirit teaches all truth; admittedly, there is a literal meaning that the author had in mind, but as God is the author of Holy Scripture, every true meaning is at the same time a literal meaning; for all that is true comes from the Truth itself, is contained in it, springs from it, and is willed by it. And so with Dante in his Convivio: “The Scriptures can be understood, and ought to be explained, principally in four senses. One is called literal. . . . The second is called allegorical. . . . The third sense is called moral. . . . The fourth sense is called anagogical, that is, beyond sense (sovrasenso); and this is when a Scripture is spiritually expounded, which, while true in its literal sense, refers beyond it to the higher things of the eternal Glory, as we may see in that Psalm of the Prophet, where he says that when Israel went out of Egypt Judea became holy and free. Which, although manifestly true according to the letter, is nonetheless true in its spiritual meaning, namely, that the soul, in forsaking its sins, is made holy and free in its powers” (Trattato Secondo, I).

As regards Biblical style—setting aside certain variations that are of no importance here—it is important to understand that the sacred or suprahuman character of the text could never be manifested in an absolute way through language, which perforce is human; the divine quality referred to appears rather through the wealth of superposed meanings and in the theurgic power of the text when it is thought and pronounced and written.

Equally important is the fact that the Scriptures are sacred, not because of their subject matter and the way in which it is dealt with, but because of their degree of inspiration, or what amounts to the same, their divine origin; it is this that determines the contents of the book, and not the reverse. The Bible can speak of a multitude of things other than God without being the less sacred for it, whereas other books can deal with God and exalted matters and still not be the divine Word. The apparent incoherence in certain sacred texts results ultimately from the disproportion between divine Truth and human language: it is as if this language, under the pressure of the Infinite, were shattered into a thousand disparate pieces or as if God had at His disposal no more than a few words to express a thousand truths, thus obliging Him to use all sorts of ellipses and paraphrases. According to the Rabbis, “God speaks succinctly”; this also explains the syntheses in sacred language that are incomprehensible a priori, as well as the superposition of meanings already mentioned. The role of the orthodox and inspired commentators is to intercalate in sentences, when too elliptic, the implied and unexpressed clauses, or to indicate in what way or in what sense a certain statement should be taken, besides explaining the different symbolisms, and so forth. It is the orthodox commentary and not the word-for-word meaning of the Torah that acts as law. The Torah is said to be “closed”, and the sages “open” it; and it is precisely this “closed” nature of the Torah that renders necessary from the start the Mishnah or commentary that was given in the tabernacle when Joshua transmitted it to the Sanhedrin. It is also said that God gave the Torah during the day and the Mishnah during the night and that the Torah is infinite in itself, whereas the Mishnah is inexhaustible as it flows forth in duration. It should also be noted that there are two principal degrees of inspiration, or even three if the orthodox commentaries are included; Judaism expresses the difference between the first two degrees by comparing the inspiration of Moses to a bright mirror and that of the other prophets to a dark mirror.

The two keys to the Bible are, as already stated, the ideas of symbolism and revelation. Too often revelation has been approached in a psychological, hence purely naturalistic and relativistic, sense. In reality revelation is the fulgurant irruption of a knowledge that comes, not from an individual or collective subconscious, but on the contrary from a supraconsciousness, which though latent in all beings nonetheless immensely surpasses its individual and psychological crystallizations. In saying that “the kingdom of God is within you”, Jesus Christ means not that Heaven—or God—is of a psychological order, but simply that access to spiritual and divine realities is to be found at the center of our being, and it is from this center precisely that revelation springs forth when the human ambience offers a sufficient reason for it to do so and when therefore a predestined human vehicle presents itself, namely, one capable of conveying this outflow.

But clearly the most important basis for what we have just spoken of is the admission that a world of intelligible light exists, both underlying and transcending our consciousness; the knowledge of this world, or this sphere, entails as a consequence the negation of all psychologism and likewise all evolutionism. In other words, psychologism and evolutionism are nothing but makeshift hypotheses to compensate for the absence of this knowledge.

To affirm then that the Bible is both symbolistic and revealed means, on the one hand, that it expresses complex truths in a language that is indirect and full of imagery and, on the other, that its source is neither the sensorial world nor the psychological or rational plane, but rather a sphere of reality that transcends these planes and immensely envelops them, while yet in principle being accessible to man through the intellective and mystical center of his being, or through the “heart”, if one prefers, or pure “Intellect”. It is the Intellect which comprises in its very substance the evidence for the sphere of reality that we are speaking of and which thus contains the proof of it, if this word can have a meaning in the domain of direct and participative perception. Indeed the classical prejudice of scientism, or the fault in its method if one wishes, is to deny any mode of knowledge that is suprasensorial and suprarational, and in consequence to deny the planes of reality to which these modes refer and which constitute, precisely, the sources both of revelation and of intellection. Intellection—in principle—is for man what revelation is for the collectivity; in principle, we say, for in fact man cannot have access to direct intellection—or gnosis—except by virtue of a pre-existing scriptural revelation. What the Bible describes as the fall of man or the loss of Paradise coincides with our separation from total intelligence; this is why it is said that “the kingdom of God is within you”, and again: “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” The Bible itself is the multiple and mysterious objectification of this universal Intellect or Logos: it is thus the projection, by way of images and enigmas, of what we carry in a quasiinaccessible depth at the bottom of our heart; and the facts of sacred History—where nothing is left to chance—are themselves cosmic projections of the unfathomable divine Truth.

#9: Procession In The Fog

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Procession in the Fog, Ernst Ferdinand Oehme – 1828

God: A Process Perspective

One of the most interesting aspects of the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead is his notion of God. Sometimes obscure, his conception of a supreme being does not seem to perfectly fit into any traditional theistic or philosophical beliefs on the nature of such a being. The most startling fact about Whitehead’s God to anyone approaching it for the first time is that it is not omnipotent. Whitehead referred to God as a mere “accident of creativity. For Whitehead the ultimately real, that beyond which we can go no further in our investigation, which just is, is the reality of Creativity. From this conception all else flows, even God. To some, however, the idea of God is so tied to omnipotence that conceiving of him without this trait is not possible – God is either omnipotent and omniscient or he is not God. Thus, some have claimed Whitehead was mistaken in naming his supreme being God at all. I disagree. These people are still looking at Whitehead’s God through the lens of the traditional western philosophy, deeply tied to the legacy of Aristotle.

According to Whitehead, expanding on a concept from Plato, being is equated to power, and power comes from the ability to act and be acted upon. Thus, the greatest being would be one which has the greatest possible relation and interconnection to all actual entities. Aristotle’s unmoved mover, which sets the world in motion and watch it unfold, is inferior to the process God, which holds ultimate creativity, being interrelated to every actual entity and influencing their action with the intent of realising objectively good ‘subjective aims’. Of course, actual entities retain their own creativity, and are thus free to disobey God and not pursue their divinely imbued subjective aim.

This seems to reflect the traditional theistic answer to the problem of evil. Evil exists because beings are free to disobey God and pursue selfish aims. In this traditional solution however, we seem to lack an explanation of ‘natural’ evils, such as the existence of debilitating physical diseases which seem to afflict without prejudice, inflicting suffering on everyone including the virtuous and children. “Bone cancer in children, how do you explain that one?” the atheist demands of the believer. Whitehead’s metaphysics gives us a more satisfactory answer. All of reality is the interplay of actual entities, which each contain a smidgen of  creativity and free will. The lion that attacks the village, the cancer cells that refuse to obey orders and thus cause their holder, the water in the flood, all contain a freedom which cannot be wholly made subject to God’s will.

Whitehead’s God is both immanent and transcendent. Thus, Whitehead has been described as a panentheist, as his God is present everywhere in the world but is not limited to it. God has an immanent nature, dubbed by Whitehead as his ‘consequent nature’. This is the aspect of God just spoken of, which ‘prehends’ all actual entities and engages in a continual process of communication with and attempted influence of each actual entity. God, through his consequent nature, strives to draw all actual entities closer to him, in a process similar to how the Hindus describe each soul being reborn until it eventually achieves union with it’s source, the Godhead. However, the qualities of God are not exhausted by his consequent nature, he also has a ‘primordial nature’, which would traditionally be termed his transcendent quality.

The primordial nature of God is especially improtant in Whitehead’s organic philosophy, as it contains the ‘Eternal Objects’, Whitehead’s conception of platonic ideas, objects which exist irregardless of their actualisation in the actual world. Thus Whitehead echoes the Neo Platonists, who place all platonic ideas as ultimately being contained in ‘The One’. The primordial nature of God is understood by it’s intimate relation with the idea of potential. It contains the envisagement of all possibilities, all possible worlds, and holds in being the eternal objects of which the actual entities which make those possibilities take their being. However, were the primordial nature of God his only nature, he would be static, perfect, unchangeable being which is not actualised. It is only by the action of his consequent nature, working in process with actual entities, that God’s primordial nature is actualised and turned into real being, which is only possible in a state of process.

Thus, the consequent and primordial nature of God are intimately linked and ultimately inseparable, without the primordial nature there would be no ‘being’ for the ‘becoming’ of actual entities to enter into. Likewise, without the consequent nature there would be no ‘becoming’ to give the conceptual realities of eternal objects an actualised reality. This sentiment of being and becoming’s interdependence is echoed by Whitehead, when he writes

“It is as true to say that God is permanent and the world fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.

It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.

It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.

It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.

It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.

It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.”

Thus, God is not, as in Neo Platonism, perfect being which corrupts itself by entering into imperfect process. Rather, God maximises his being by sharing in creativity with a multitude of actual entities.

Whitehead never offers an argument for the existence of God. Like much of his metaphysics, it is not supported by any logical deductions or philosophical arguments. Rather, Whitehead presents God as a necessary aspect to his metaphysics. Whitehead presents his speculative view of reality, which conforms to all known fact, then let’s the readers decide for themselves if it offers a better understanding of reality than all other available options. If one is to accept his viewpoint, God is a necessary addition. Whitehead’s God is necessary for without him their would be no order to reality, and in a sense one could extract an altered version of the design argument from Whitehead. Actual Entities require an ordering power to structure their interactions, while ‘Eternal Objects’ require an ontological ground, which is offered by God’s primordial nature. Thus, God offers order amid what would otherwise be a well of chaos, in which any actualised state of being is impossible.

Perhaps Whitehead, through his abstract and at times obscure cosmology, sought to defend ‘the God of the poets’ against a sustained attack from the impersonal and wholly abstract ‘God of the philosophers’. Though Whitehead’s God completes his complex conception of reality, he is more in line with the layman’s understanding of God than the likes of Spinoza or Bradley. God is not some impersonal absolute which simply is, but never becomes, which is every action, but doesn’t act. Rather, God is an intimate, immediate reality, present in every being, attempting to influence them in a loving way, but never through force or coercion. There is a place for mystical experience, as mystics enter into a loving relationship with the equally loving God. There is also a place for free will, as described above, and even prayer, as subjects enter into communication with the ever present consequent nature of God, petitioning a positive influence on their lives, which can be influenced through the subjective aims given by God. However, our aims and the objectively good aims sought by God are often mutually exclusive, and so the role of God in aiding us could better be understood as influencing us to see the good, and deal with whatever sturggles we may face along the way. Of course, Whitehead never expresses these sentiments, but the important point is that Whitehead rebels against the philosophical abstraction of God and returns to a loving, action oriented being.